In the dark of night, you will find black or brown rats in the finest of neighborhoods. The fruit rat enjoys your Florida oranges, the city rat dumpster dives outside fine restaurants in Chicago and the country rat feasts on your compost. Occasionally, you spot one out of the corner of your eye, sending shivers up and down your spine. But, you won’t find kangaroo rats feasting on your leftovers because they spend all of their time in the desert areas of western North America.
We probably have so little regard for the rat because they can spread zoonotic diseases. (A zoonotic disease is one that normally lives in animals but is transferable to humans.) A popular example most folks cite is the Black Death that wiped out 30% to 60% of Europe’s population in the 1300s. But, in that instance, it was fleas (that bit rats that then bit humans) that were the carriers of the bubonic plague.
So, back to kangaroo rats. Unlike their more common cousins who come from the genus Rattus, the kangaroo rat belongs to the genus Dipodomys. Their hind legs, shaped and used much like those of a kangaroo, are what gives them their name. However, it’s their ability to move like a ninja that people admire, and the fact that rather than wipe out the human race with the plague, they spend their time defending us from another deadly foe.
Able to jump up to 9 feet and run at speeds of almost 10 feet/second, the Ninja Kangaroo Rat is a formidable opponent in combat. In fact, their maneuvers happen so fast that scientists can’t even see what happens. So, they recently set up cameras to capture it all. When you slow down the footage you can see how these small creatures don’t just run from their predator—the sidewinder rattlesnake—but fight back and win.
Using a technique unique to them, the Ninja Kangaroo Rat leaps in the air as fast as 38 milliseconds after the snake lunges. Then, using his hind legs kicks the snake in the head to drop him to the ground. Reorienting himself with his tail for the perfect landing, the rat scurries away—victorious. Watch video proof here and below.
Having trouble with dumpster diving rats around your place? Consider trying an ultrasonic pest control device.
Or, you can try one of these 10 methods for repelling rodents.
And, learn more amazing facts about rats that you probably never knew.